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Agar Agar is a jelly-like substance obtained from the cell walls of some species of red algae of the genara Gelidium and Gracilaria, primarily Gelidium amansii, which is released on boiling. Gracilaria Agar is used mainly in food applications while Gelidium Agar is used primarily for bacteriological plates.
Agar Agar is sold as dried strips or a white powder. It is a hydrocolloid, forming a gel when water is added. Agar melts at around 85 °C but solidifies at about 32–40 °C after cooling, providing good stability at relatively high temperatures.
Agar Agar is used as a food additive, particularly in vegetarian products as it is a substitute for gelatine. It acts as a stabiliser, thickener and gelling agent for jams, marmalades and other fruit preserves, as well as desserts such as custard, ice cream, jelly and various other puddings. Agar is also used as a thickener for soups and to clarify sauces and stocks. It is also used as an emulsifier, flavour enhancer and texturiser. In addition, Agar is used in the brewing industry as a clarifying agent.
Agar Agar is used as an ingredient in candies, functioning as a thickener and gelling agent.
Agar Agar is used in Petri dishes to provide a growth medium, supplemented by a nutrient, in which micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi can be cultured for micro-biological work. Agar is indigestible for many organisms so does not affect microbial growth. Agar is more appropriate for incubation purposes than other solidifying agents (e.g. gelatine), which melt near to human body temperature (37 °C). In the Health industry, Agar is used as an appetite suppressant and laxative since it comprises approximately 80% fibre and swells to three times its size when it absorbs water. Some consumers have used it as part of the Kanten diet, claiming to feel fuller after ingesting it.
Agar Agar is used as sizing (protective filler or glaze) for fabrics and paper to improve their absorption and wear characteristics.
Agar Agar is used in many other industries, ranging from dentistry to farming.